DIY laying of paving slabs

Updated April 17, 2017

Paving slabs make a nice patio floor for your garden, or the base for a shed. They are easy to lay, and not massively time consuming, especially if you have friends to help you. Sand is the most common material upon which to lay slabs, as it allows for rearrangement. This is especially useful if you are trying to arrange slabs in a pattern.

Mark the perimeter of the area that you would like to cover with the slabs with either spray paint or a length of string stretched between pegs.

Dig the area to be paved to a depth of around 7.5 cm (3 inches). This allows enough space to put down a layer of sand, as well as allows for the depth of the paving slab itself.

Use your spirit level at random places in the bottom of your excavation to make sure that it is level. If you are laying a large area of paving slabs, you may wish for the ground to slope slightly. This will allow rainwater to drain away from the area.

Use a spade and a rake to spread and level a layer of coarse sand in the excavation. Make sure this layer is around an inch deep.

Lay the slabs, beginning at one corner of the excavation. Keep large slabs at the edge of your excavated area if you are laying a pattern, as smaller slabs are more prone to come loose.

Use a wooden block and a hammer to knock the slabs into place. This beds them down into the sand and stops them from moving or wobbling.

Use your spirit level to ensure that the area is not sloping more than you wish.

Sweep small piles of coarse sand into the cracks between the slabs. This helps to anchor them and prevent them from moving, as well as creating a nice joint.

Spray water over the area to compact the sand. Allow the area to dry for a couple of days.


Use the soil you dug out of your excavated area to add to your flowerbeds.


Do not hit slabs directly with the hammer, or they might break. Be careful when lifting slabs, as improper lifting can cause injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Slabs
  • Coarse sand
  • Spade
  • Pegs and line
  • Spray paint
  • Spirit level
  • Hammer
  • Block of wood
  • Hose
  • Rake
  • Broom
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About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.